In summers of both 2016 and 2017, NBSS welcomed students from Madison Park Technical Vocational High School as part of a collaborative program with Boston After School & Beyond and its Boston Summer Learning Community.
Boston After School & Beyond brings together schools, nonprofits, businesses, and city organizations to create programs that provide students in Boston with expanded learning and skill-development opportunities. The organization provided majority funding as well as in-kind evaluation services for a Carpentry & Locksmithing Summer Program, with staff from NBSS and Madison Park then tailoring the program to students' needs.
Eight students enrolled in the summer of 2016, and twelve in the summer of 2017, including three returnees from the previous year. Their work was to build "Bennet Town," a scaled-down version of a project done by full-time NBSS students.
They framed the walls and floor of a living space approximately the size of a small apartment, installed drywall, sheet rock, kitchen cabinets, and windows, cut and laid tile backsplash and flooring, hung doors, and ran molding and decorative trim. They also made a built-in bench in the kitchen and painted everything, according to Brian Vogt PC '94, Department Head and instructor of Carpentry. Along with Matt Frechette CA '16, Brian taught the students and had a hand in developing the curriculum.
The projects undertaken by our students gave them experiences and the opportunity to develop life skills that will help them better themselves in the real world. I could see real differences in their maturity and their willingness to better themselves. They left NBSS eager to build their own homes in the future.
Derrick Ward, a Community Field Coordinator at Madison Park, says he saw first-hand how much the 11th and 12th graders valued their time at NBSS. "The projects undertaken by our students gave them experiences and the opportunity to develop life skills that will help them better themselves in the real world. I could see real differences in their maturity and their willingness to better themselves. They left NBSS eager to build their own homes in the future," says Derrick.
Katie Theodoros, Director of Continuing Education at NBSS, also viewed the program as a success on several levels.
"We provided an environment outside of their high school structure, and held them to the same standards as our adult students. This gave them a feel for what a job in the field might actually be like. At the same time, the program allowed us to experiment with a new instructional model and build communities of interest," says Katie.
"One of the major takeaways from this was teamwork. Carpentry is a field where teamwork is essential not only to success but also to safety. It meant showing up on time, because being late impacts others. The emphasis on teamwork also helped them notice when a team member needed assistance and what to do to support that person," she says.
Working together also gave students the opportunity to get to know others whom they may never have met or even spoken to at Madison Park.
"Combined, these skills are more than just vocational know-how, they're important in all areas of life. They came naturally to the Madison Park students, and we can't wait to welcome them back again next summer."